Atheist Demographics And a Good Society

It's often claimed by Christians that an atheistic society would be good for nothing. Balderdash! The demographics show otherwise.

Phil Zuckerman has done some extensive research into atheist demographics around the world. While polls differ on the questions asked and although the results are admittedly difficult to square with each other, the top twenty-one atheist countries are Sweden (from 46% to 85%), Vietnam (81%), Denmark (from 43% to 80%), Norway (from 31% to 72%), Japan (from 64% to 65%), Czech Republic (from 54% to 61%), Finland (from 28% to 60%), France (from 43% to 54%), South Korea (from 30% to 52%), Estonia (49%), Germany (from 41% to 49%), Russia (from 24% to 48%), Hungary (from 32% to 46%), Netherlands (from 39% to 44%), Britain (from 31% to 44%), Belgium (42%-43%), Bulgaria (from 34% to 40%), Slovenia (from 35% to 38%), Israel (from 15% to 37%), Canada (from 19% to 30%) Latvia (from 20% to 29%), and so on down the line. [Phil Zuckerman, “Atheism: Contemporary Number and Patterns, “in Michael Martin, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, pp. 47-65, see also, Zuckerman, Society without God.]

Zuckerman tells us that “nonbelievers in God as a group come in fourth place after Christianity (2 billion), Islam (1.2 billion), and Hinduism (900 million) in terms of global ranking of commonly held belief systems….Between 500 million and 750 million humans currently do not believe in God.” [Ibid., pp. 55 and 61] He also argues that “high levels of organic atheism are strongly correlated with high levels of societal health.” [Ibid., p. 61] The least religious countries are better off than most of the religious countries. Atheist countries have a higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality, less crime, fewer suicides, fewer homicides, higher literacy, less poverty, greater gender equality, better health care, and so forth.

Sam Harris states the obvious about all of the data: “religion is the most important guarantor of societal health. They also prove, conclusively, that a high level of unbelief need not lead to the fall of civilization.” [Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values, p. 147].